tv NBC Nightly News NBC February 15, 2011 5:30pm-6:00pm PST
on our broadcast tonight, confrontation nations, the wave of protests inspired by egypt keeps on growing. in iran, the regime pushes back calling for death for protest leaders. blind eye. some women in the u.s. military say they face an enemy within, and they say the brass is looking the other way. price check. the cost of nearly everything is going up. tonight we'll look at why now, and who's willing and able to pay more. and who's a good dog? time for the canine version of the oscars, the grammy's and the olympics all in one show. "nightly news" begins now. good evening. captions paid for by nbc-universal television
good evening, all it took was the biggest nation in the arab world to get the attention of the entire region. and now tonight you can almost follow the sparks. the glowing embers of uprising that started in tunisia, spread to egypt and may go further. though, it appears other regimes are not prepared to tolerate what we saw unfold in cairo. the seeds are certainly there in iran, bahrain, in yemen, perhaps beyond there. again tonight, we begin with our chief foreign correspondent richard engel on post in cairo. richard, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. the protests have been spreading across the region, but so far appear to be strongest in iran, which already had an organized opposition movement. inspired by egypt, iranians are finding the courage to relaunch their revolt against the regime
in tehran. thousands of protesters clashed with riot police in tehran on monday. at least one protester was killed. for many, it's all too familiar. the iranian government violently repressed similar demonstrations in 2009, after elections many iranians claim were stolen by mahmoud ahmadinejad. this time iran is making it clear right from the start it will not tolerate a new round of protests. iran's parliament today issued a fierce warning, calling for the execution of protest leaders, including former presidential candidate mir hossein mousavi, and even the moderate ex-president mohammad khatami. they may not be empty threats. iran hanged two activists last year on charges of plotting against the regime. nbc's tehran bureau chief, ali arouzi, is one of the few western journalists working in
iran. >> iran sees itself as the vanguard of islam. they would like to see a more islamic government in egypt. one that's closer to iran and further from america. but on the other hand they didn't want the events in egypt to energize the people in iran and bring them back on the streets, which is exactly what happened yesterday. >> reporter: president mahmoud ahmadinejad today called the protests a western conspiracy. in washington, president obama sided with the demonstrators and accused iran of hypocrisy. >> i find it ironic you have the iranian regime pretending to celebrate what happened in egypt, when, in fact, they have acted in direct contrast to what happened to egypt by gunning down and beating a people who were trying to express themselves peacefully in iran. >> reporter: but it's not just iran. revolts are spreading across the region, including to u.s. allies.
in bahrain, base of the u.s. navy's fifth fleet, protesters clashed with security forces for a second day. two demonstrators have been killed, including one shot at a funeral. the king of bahrain said he would investigate the shootings. bahrain has already promised to pay every family in the country $3,000. a gift from the kingdom. yemen, a poor country on the tip of the arabian peninsula can't afford such beneficence. small but relatively violent protests continued in yemen for a fifth day today. like in egypt, yemen's demonstrators want to topple their president of three decades, accusing him of corruption. but yemen is already fighting two civil wars and has an active al qaeda cell that sent bombs to the united states last october on cargo planes. a collapse of the weak u.s.-backed yemeni government could lead to anarchy. here in egypt, former president mubarak remains hidden in sharm el sheikh.
but the ripple effects from the revolution here may just be beginning. >> our chief foreign correspondent richard engel starting us off again tonight in cairo. richard, thanks. one more note on this egypt story tonight, and sadly it's a grizzly one. it has to do with a colleague of ours at cbs news. they announced today their chief foreign correspondent lara logan is hospitalized here in the u.s. tonight after having received what cbs is calling a brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating in the midst of the celebration in cairo this past friday night. she was apparently rescued by women in the crowd and members of the egyptian army. while the network now says the family is requesting privacy, we at least wanted our friend and colleague, lara logan, to know our thoughts are with her. one of the triggers for this revolutionary fervor sweeping across the middle east, the sharply rising cost of food. it was a factor in the uprising in egypt. the world bank said today that huge spikes in commodity prices
have led to a dangerous situation with food costs that could push millions of people into poverty. and we are not exempt here at home, this is about to be an even bigger story here in the u.s. nbc's kevin tibbles reports tonight from chicago. >> reporter: however you spend your money, what you wear, how you travel, eat or pay at the pump, get ready to dig deeper, because almost everything you buy will soon cost you more. and it's at the grocery store where we may get slammed the hardest, especially those in lower incomes. >> no matter where you're going, you're going to see your food budget being attacked. it's going to be crunched because of the rising prices and you're going to have to make decisions. >> reporter: according to the world bank, food prices rose 29% in the last year. and while americans spend just over 9% of household income on food, for many in the developing world, who live on pennies a day, the price increases are staggering. >> when you're spending 80% or
90% of your income on food, just a 5% increase has a tremendous impact on your lifestyle. >> reporter: we've already seen food riots in the middle east and elsewhere as the price of daily bread skyrockets. what's driving up the price of food? the weather. floods in australia, drought in russia, and crop failures in china have reduced supply. at the same time, increased demand from emerging markets like india and china, where people are living better and eating more. but there is also speculation, which author frederick kaufmann says is artificially driving prices higher. the markets have been subverted, the whole thing has been thrown out of whack. that's what we're experiencing. consumers are going to feel this in the next eight, nine, ten months. >> reporter: it's here where you can witness the trade in commodities, orders so far this year are way up. and in an ever growing world, the demand for food will likely
continue to increase. >> if everybody in the world ate like we did, it would require another two world's to produce as much food as we really need. >> reporter: how will we pay for it? and, brian, how will we pay for it, indeed? if we all had to pay for it in that way, it's going to be a situation that's hurting a lot of families across this country. brian? >> kevin tibbles in chicago for us tonight. kevin, thanks. president obama took questions from reporters today one day after he released his budget plan which came under fire from some republicans and some democrats. our white house correspondent savannah guthrie with us from there tonight. hey, savannah, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. aides say the president wanted to make the case for his budget, which he says is a serious first step to getting spending under control. but he had to fend off accusations that he hadn't taken on the biggest issue, entitlement spending for social security, medicare and medicaid, which is the majority of the federal budget. >> let's face it, you guys are
pretty impatient. if something doesn't happen today, then the assumption is, it's just not going to happen. this is not a matter of you go first or i go first, this is a matter of everybody having a serious conversation about where we want to go, and then ultimately getting in that boat at the same time, so it doesn't tipover. >> reporter: republicans are trying to get $60 billion worth of cuts through the house for this year's budget. and the president says if the cuts are too deep, he will veto that measure. brian? >> savannah guthrie from the white house tonight. savannah, thanks. in italy tonight, the news prime minister berlusconi did not want to hear. he will have to stand trial for allegedly paying for sex with a 17-year-old and then trying to cover it up. nbc's michelle kosinski is in milan tonight with the latest on this scandal. michelle, good evening. >> reporter: hi there, brian. prosecutors say this is the tip
of the iceberg, they claim silvio berlusconi whose wife left him in 2009 has been hosting these wild parties at his villa with showgirls and prostitutes. and now he's charged with having sex with an underaged girl and corruption. and a judge says he's going to trial for it. silvio berlusconi has led italy for nearly 20 years. the billionaire media mogul with the smile so many have idolized. but today in the scandal weary country, that became nearly impossible to do. the 74-year-old indicted for allegedly paying a then 17-year-old belly dancer for sex and trying to cover it up. a judge ordered he be fast tracked to trial before a three judge panel, all of them coincidentally female. >> i think he will fight tooth and nail, i mean, because he has everything to lose from this. >> reporter: thousands of italians, mostly women, have been in the streets demanding he step down, yelling that berlusconi has turned italy into
a brothel. that's the same word one young woman used in the investigation against him to describe his bunga bunga parties, as he calls them, but that police have called orgies, involving allegedly large numbers of young women. >> what he has been doing is obviously not a normal thing to do for anybody. >> reporter: berlusconi has faced charges before, tax evasion, bribery and things have always turned out his way. here, though, is an investigation built on hundreds of pages of wiretap transcripts. the teenager -- stage name ruby heart stealer -- admits she accepted thousands of dollars from the prime minister, but denied having sex. police say at one point she was arrested for theft, it was berlusconi who ordered her released, claiming she was related to the now deposed egyptian president, hosni mubarak, which was not true. >> it is not a pretty thing to have the prime minister facing such charges.
>> reporter: berlusconi has refused to resign. he doesn't have to. even if he were convicted, his appeals could take years. so berlusconi denies all wrongdoing, he says this is a politically motivated attack. his trial is set for april 6th. although there are a few things his lawyers can try to do to delay that. he also doesn't have to appear during it, but if he's con victimed he could face up to 15 years in prison, brian. >> michelle kosinski, where things are just getting started in milan. michelle, thanks. when we come back here tonight, a disturbing new report about how women serving their country in the u.s. military say the enemy they fear comes often from among their own ranks. and later, the top dogs are on parade, but there's a lot more than pride on the line at the westminster.
it's about what a group of women say is a danger inside the u.s. military, where they have elected and volunteered to serve. the allegation here is that an alarming number of women are victims of sexual assault and harassment while on active duty. nbc news national investigative correspondent michael isikoff has our report. >> reporter: 25-year-old rebecca havrillo was an army sergeant in 2007, serving as the only female member of a bomb squad in eastern afghanistan. even though she faced enemy fire from the taliban, her most harrowing experience was what happened on her last day in afghanistan, when a fellow sergeant trapped her inside his room. >> at that point he pretty much said you're not leaving until i get what i want, and pushed me down on the bed and used his body weight at that point to hold me down and proceeded to rape me. >> reporter: her assailant took photos while he raped her, and the pictures were later posted
on a porn site. >> you want to talk about feeling completely and utterly exposed. >> reporter: today, 14 current and former service members filed a lawsuit charging the pentagon turned a blind eye after they reported being sexually assaulted and harassed by fellow service members while on active duty. >> oftentimes it is commanders who are complicit in the coverups of these cases. >> reporter: in 2009 there were more than 3,200 reported sexual assaults in the military. but the pentagon itself says most go unreported, and fewer than one fourth are ever prosecuted. kay whitley runs the pentagon sexual assault prevention and response office p.m. >> sexual assault has no place in our armed forces, that's why the department is committed to programs that focus on preventing the crime from ever occurring. >> reporter: sarah was a corporal at camp pendleton in
2006. after a night of drinking in the barracks, she says a superior officer climbed into the bed where she was sleeping and forced himself on her. >> i was kind of panicked. i didn't say anything. >> reporter: after reporting the incident, she said she was still forced to work in the same office as her assailant. >> i was told i needed to suck it up until the end of the investigation, and to continue to treat him with the respect his rank deserves. >> reporter: who told you to suck it up? >> all of them. that was just the general attitude. >> reporter: how did they put it? >> words were, marines don't cry. >> reporter: the pentagon wouldn't comment on the lawsuit itself, but a spokesman says d.o.d. takes this issue very seriously, and this is now a command priority. >> michael isikoff, thanks for your work. when we come back, a former president, a world class poet. more than one american sports legend, they all have something special in common tonight.
one day a year in the life of every u.s. president it's a happy event. it's an emotional event. it happened today when president obama awarded the presidential medal of freedom to 15 distinguished individuals. for the recipients it's an unmistakable token of how our nation feels about them. for the nation it's an unmistakable reminder of the truly great citizens living among us. here now the names and faces
from today's white house ceremony. >> this year's medal of freedom recipients reveal the best of who we are and who we aspire to be. our first obligation is to the environment, john once said. a rolling stone put it best. if the planet has a lawyer, it's john adams. a voice that's spoken to millions, including my mother, which is why my sister is named maya. a philanthropist is a lover of humanity, and there's no word that fits warren better. of his own efforts he's simply said, i'm just trying to find a way to make pictures. your mission has spread to 50 countries and touched millions of lives, ensuring that the family business remains alive and well. she has taught the world that it is often in our most hopeless moments that we discover the extent of our strength and the depth of our love. time and again he faced down death so that all of us could share equally in the joys of
life. today we remember and honor dr. tom little. a humanitarian in the truest sense of the world. in his words, when we enlarge our view of the world, we deepen our understanding of our own lives. she's made it her mission to spread tolerance and opportunity to children of all backgrounds and all walks of life. to people around the world, the story of angela merkel is one of inspiration. worth think of one of the greatest nicknames in sports, stan "the man." he made that brilliance burn for two decades. i'm not a basketball player, i'm a man who plays basketball. bill russell, the man, stood up for the rights and dignity of all men. family, faith, fidelity to the common good. these are the values that made john sweeny who he is. his humility and decency reflects the very best of the american spirit. those of you who know him, this is a gentleman. inspiring citizens to become points of light.
and service others. >> and one notable absence at today's ceremony, former president george w. bush was not at the white house today as his father was awarded the medal of freedom. although brother jeb and mother barbara and other family members were in the front row. a spokesman for president bush 43 says neither he nor former first lady laura bush could attend due to a scheduling conflict. another break, and when we come back, becoming hot dog. it is no walk in the park.
we often have celebrities visiting here in new york, but tonight there's a whole bunch of them. they're all located in and around madison square garden, and they're all the pampered kind. they have people fussing over them, they eat out of nice bowls. what makes them different, though, they don't use the bathroom in their hotel rooms, that's because they're dogs. the very best dogs in town for the westminster dog show. and since it takes a dog lover to know one, this one went to nbc's mike taibbi. >> here come the little guys. >> reporter: a dog doesn't make it to westminster without at least one blue ribbon picked up elsewhere. >> look at that coat. >> reporter: so every one of
this year's competitors is already a champion. but to win anything here, chris longley's tibetan spaniel is this big. >> it's like winning the oscar, because i bred this dog. i'm over the moon right now. >> reporter: but westminster remains a big deal because dogs are a big part of american life. by one estimate, there's a canine presence in some 60% of american families. the dogs judged here represent 179 distinct breeds, including six new ones. >> new to westminster this year, >> the boykin spaniel, the blue tick coonhound, the connie corso and the first one from iceland, the icelandic sheepdog. >> reporter: winning isn't the only thing here, 800 of the competitors are staying at the hotel pennsylvania, where at the dog spa they can get a psychic reading, a quick workout. a wash and a combout. new head shots and maybe a bit
of shopping. >> these very special dogs we had. >> reporter: but on the garden floor, this is as serious a business as you can imagine, especially when the business is measured by the dollars spent to get here. to win best of group, maybe $50,000 says groomer judy davis. to win the whole thing? the whole magilla? >> i would say, at least a million dollars. >> reporter: and you don't get the million back? >> no. just a big ego. >> reporter: ego, sure, but love too. the unconditional kind the dogs have been giving and getting since long before westminster first put it all on display 135 years ago. mike taibbi, nbc news, new york. >> good dogs there. a program note, can you see the final round best in show live in color tonight on the usa network beginning at 8:00 eastern, 7:00 central. that's our broadcast for this tuesday night, thank you for being here with us. i'm brian williams. we sure hope to see you right back here tomorrow evening. good night.